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Exercise Testing Antibiotic Delivery in Mock Anthrax Attack Goes Smoothly

U.S mail workers successfully delivered mock antibiotics to households in the Twin Cities region in a Sunday exercise simulating response to an anthrax attack, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported (see GSN, April 25).

Some 300 U.S. Postal Service workers participated in the Operation Medicine Delivery exercise, which involved the distribution of empty pill containers to some 37,000 residences spread across areas in north Minneapolis, St. Paul, Golden Valley, and Crystal, according to the Minnesota Health Department. Pill bottle distribution had wrapped up by mid-afternoon, Minnesota Health Department spokesman Buddy Ferguson said.

In the event of an actual anthrax attack, the U.S. government envisions using volunteer mail carriers to distribute doses of the antibiotic doxycycline to affected households. The U.S. Health and Human Services Department paid for Sunday's exercise.

"We're very pleased with how the field portion of this test went," Ferguson said.

"We think this will be a very promising option in the event of an emergency" that necessitates the fast delivery of medical countermeasures, he added. "But there are lots of moving parts to it, and still lots of things yet to assess, lots of people, including law enforcement, to talk to about potential barriers that might be out there."

A final analysis of the drill could come within days or weeks, the spokesman said.

Seattle, Boston, and Philadelphia have also conducted similar drug-delivery trials, but the Twin Cities exercise was the largest to date (Pamela Miller, Star Tribune, May 6).

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